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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  March 2, 2014 5:30pm-6:01pm PST

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"nightly news" is next. >> see you back here tonight at 6:00. good night. on this sunday night -- show of force. the standoff intensifies tonight as russian troops surround a ukrainian army base. the ukrainian prime minister calls the invasion a declaration of war while the u.s. calls it an incredible act of aggression. endless winter. as much of the country gets hit by yet another big storm, bringing heavy snow, sleet, freezing rain and more weather fatigue. on trial. he captured the hearts of millions, the amputee sprinter who made it all the way to the olympics. now oscar pistorius is about to be tried for murder. and final voyage for a symbol of america's power at sea. a bittersweet farewell to those who knew her well.
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>> announcer: from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. >> good evening. the east/west standoff over the future of ukraine escalated today with russian combat troops seizing control of the crimean peninsula after a bloodless showdown. ukraine's prime minister is calling it a declaration of war. tonight his country's outgunned and outnumbered army has been placed on a war footing while the u.s. and its european allies are working to punish russia economically and politically. and late word this afternoon that u.s. secretary of state john kerry will soon be on his way to the region. we're covering developments from washington to crimea, which is where nbc's bill neely starts us off tonight. bill? >> reporter: yes, russia's
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takeover of crimea, lester, is almost complete. they've done it without tanks, without firing a single shot. ukraine's navy is either under russian guard or gone. its army now surrounded by moscow's men. russian soldiers on the march in ukraine. this unit is taking up positions outside a ukrainian army base. the objective? to take it from troops who were once their comrades in the soviet army. but times and loyalties have changed. the russians have come prepared for a fight. behind the gate, the ukrainian troops are dressed for combat but look bewildered. and no wonder. their country has been invaded, their homeland, crimea, taken over. two armys in a tense standoff. it's been decades since we've seen as clear a russian takeover in eastern europe as this one. and so far there is no sign whatsoever that the ukrainian soldiers behind that gate are going to put up a fight.
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the russians ordered them to lay down their weapons or there'd be trouble. minutes later, the ukrainian armor was gone, the gate manned by men carrying knives who looked just as anxious about the enemy facing them. the ukrainian base, one of crimea's biggest, is now surrounded. there's no word on whether the garrison mazz has been ordered to fight or surrender. russia has taken crimea without firing a shot. it's taken just three days. russian troops occupying a region that's pulling away from ukraine fast with the full support of most of its people. >> in crimea there are a multiple population of russian people. >> reporter: pro-russian militias have formed, these men ensuring no one pulls down the statue of lenin, as they've done across western ukraine. ukraine's navy chief defected to
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c crimea today, but his orders may now come from moscow. russian ships now guard the coast. ukraine's navy has gone. its prime minister says the russian takeover amounts to a declaration of war. ukraine's army in crimea is pinned down and humiliated. well, in the rest of ukraine, its army is in combat alert, its reserves have been mobilized. its prime minister says, we are on the brink of disaster, but there is no sign it's going to fight the russians for crimea. lester? >> bill, the big question in all of this, how far will russia go with its military intervention in ukraine? well, the crimea region may be the most strongly tied to russia, it is not the only part of ukraine where russian sympathies lie deep. ian williams is in kharkiv. >> reporter: events this weekend have been at times violent and sinister, raising fears that east ukraine could be the next region to face russian intervention. more than 100 people were
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injuresaturday in clashes betweeo- and supporters of the new government in kiev. one group of hardcore pro-russians then stormed the local government building, raising the russian flag. by morning they'd gone, and the police appeared to be in control. this is the biggest city in ukraine's industrial heartland. a great deal is at stake. the pro russians are camped in the main square around the giant statue of lenin. their barricades covered in flowers and photos of riot police from the east, those killed in clashes with protesters from kiev. the fear is that this will be the next tipping point area in order to justify intervening on behalf of the russian speakers. this evening, we were invited into the pro-russian encampment. encouraged by events in crimea, they vow to defect the city from what they call extremists from the rest of the country. alexi told me that, while they
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were able to defend themselves, they would be grateful if moscow intervenes here, too. though, if that happens in the volatile east, it will certainly be messier than russia's clinical operation in crimea. ian williams, nbc news, kharkiv. >> there is plenty of tough talk today in washington about the situation in ukraine, but so far it is only talk. the u.s. may, in fact, have limited ability to influence the course of this conflict. nonetheless, as we said, secretary of state john kerry is going to travel to kiev tomorrow. nbc's kristen welker is at the white house to tell us more on this. kristen? >> reporter: lester, secretary kerry's trip comes after a flurry of telephone diplomacy this weekend. the u.s. is threatening to boycott the g-8 economic summit, which will be held in sochi but the reality mr. obama's options are limited, and vladimir putin doesn't seem to be listening. >> this is an act of aggression that's really trumped up. it's really 19th century behavior in the 21st century.
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>> reporter: with russia ignoring u.s. warnings, secretary kerry says the country will, quote, pay a price, if president vladimir putin doesn't withdraw his forces from ukraine. but how steep will that price be? >> he is not going to have a sochi g-8. he may not even remain in the g-8 if this continues. he may find himself with asset freezes on russian business. american business may pull back. there may be a further tumble of the ruble. >> reporter: kerry also said he had spoken to ten foreign ministers who are prepared to isolate russia economically. but that tough talk contrasts with the secretary's vague descriptions of how far the u.s. c is prepared to go. >> david, the last thing anybody wants is a military option in this kind of situation. >> reporter: the u.s. and several of its g-8 partners, including britain, france, italy and canada, have said they won't attend the planning meetings for the g-8 economic summit which will be held in sochi, russia. the same place as the olympics. a move described as purely
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symbolic by some foreign policy experts. a security council spokesman acknowledges the u.s. has few persuasive options. >> you can sanction putin, take away visas for certain members of parliament. you can stop trade talks. you can do things that hurt the presteej of russia on the international stage. >> reporter: but vladimir putin has heard it all before. president george w. bush also had a weak hand to play when russia invaded georgia in 2008. the new yorker's reporter says putin feels he is in a similar position of strength now. >> he does not care and in many ways his action is directly for that purpose, to show swagger in the world. >> reporter: and he says america is tired of war, which gives putin even more leverage. >> that's american weakness to be taken advantage of. putin knows where we are historically, where we are psychologically, and he certainly understands where barack obama is. and that's in a mode of withdrawing from wars. >> reporter: now, this all
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started with western leaning ukrainians wanting to strengthen economic ties with the west. today kerry called on congress to put together an economic package for ukraine on top of a billion-dollar loan already proposed. lester? >> kristen welker at the white house, thank you. in this country, it's happening yet again. a big winter storm that slammed parts of the midwest and south today is headed east tonight. it has tens of millions bracing for what many have come to know so well this winter. nbc's john yang is watching it all from indianapolis tonight. john? >> reporter: good evening, lester. this is the second wave of snow today to come through indianapolis. it's playing havoc with travel. to the south of here, i-65 is closed because of an accident. and across the nation 2,200 flights have been canceled, 4,700 delayed, and there is more to come. the calendar says march, and winter is showing no signs of letting up. >> a major winter storm is headed for the northeast and
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mid-atlantic. >> reporter: millions are bracing for more snow and ice. >> i'll never get used to it. >> reporter: from oklahoma to kentucky, icy conditions closed bridges and roadways. >> these roads are very slick and hazardous. >> reporter: it's a coast-to-coast event. the same weather system that brought torrential rain to california is pushing east. more than 130 million people are in its path. the fast-moving storm sent temperatures plummeting in texas. in san angelo, 23 degrees late today. yesterday a balmy 87. in stephenville 20 degrees, down from 80. in indianapolis, the storm brought this season's snowfall total to within six inches of breaking a 32-year-old record. >> my business has never been closed this many times. five times this year. >> reporter: d.c. and maryland residents in search of salt found empty the shelves. >> everyone is out. they can't get it anywhere. >> got in three pallets of ice
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melt yesterday morning. it was gone before 11:00. this is the first year i can remember working here, 17 years, we haven't been able to get it at will. >> reporter: in chicago, a record 3,000 people embraced the cold, splashing in a frigid lake michigan for the annual polar plunge, raising money for the special olympics. among them? mayor rahm emanuel and "tonight show" host jimmy fallon. >> he just went in. he's got his suit on. look at him. he is wet, and he is cold. >> reporter: as this storm continues its march to the east coast, airlines have already canceled about 1,500 flights for tomorrow. lester? >> john yang tonight, thanks. we want to take a closer look tonight at the path of the storm. this is live radar that shows the scope and gives you an idea of where it's heading. for more, let's bring in weather channel meteorologist mike seidel. he's in st. charles, missouri, tonight. mike? >> reporter: good evening, lester. once again, another day of misery in the midwest.
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the high in cakansas city, only. that's 45 degrees below average. the windchill 20 below zero. all this ice and snow and sleet is heading south. take a look at the forecast. tonight we'll have sleet and ice as far south as northern mississippi. meanwhile, later on tonight the snow arrives in new york city tonight. as temperatures fall, that will change the ice to snow in d.c. early monday morning. and you can put a fork in the morning rush hour in the mid-atlantic, including snow-weary philadelphia. the snow ends early, wrapping up tomorrow afternoon in the d.c./ baltimore metro. as far as ice, enough to knock out power from little rock to nashville. there, too, eventually the ice will change to snow. and the highest snowfall totals have shifted south. 5 to 8 inches across maryland, delaware and virginia, a few spots may do better. just 1 to 3 in new york city. then it's another couple of days of subfreezing cold in the northeast. and later this week, lester, we're keeping an eye on the east coast for a potential coastal storm. we'll follow it for you all week
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at the weather channel. lester? >> all right. mike, thanks. all part of the same system that brought days of heavy rain to california. while the severe drought in that state is far from over, the rain at least is a down payment on a severe deficit. the storm brought heavy surf, including a huge wave that crashed into a restaurant in santa barbara yesterday morning. to the south, residents were cleaning up today from flooding and mudflows in the los angeles area. that dropped anywhere from a couple of ifnches to almost a foot of rain on the state. when "nbc nightly news" continues on this sunday, was it murder, or was it an accident? the trial of former olympian oscar pistorius gets under way in south africa. and later, a royal road trip. the first for britain's newest little prince.
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he is one of his country's greatest athletes, a symbol of triumph over adversity that carried oscar pistorius with his artificial legs all the way to the olympics two summers ago, representing south africa. but tomorrow he faces what perhaps will be his greatest challenge as he goes on trial, charged with murdering his girlfriend. our report tonight from nbc's ayman mohyeldin in pretoria. >> reporter: it's being called south africa's atrial of the century. a star athlete who defied the odds to become the first runner to compete with prosthetics at the 2012 olympic games. a model and lawyer, captivating with her intellect and beauty, and a killing that's gripped the nation and now the world. on monday oscar pistorius will have his chance to explain in court what happened when reeva steenkamp, seen here for the last time on valentine's day last year, arrived to spend the
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night at oscar's home. hours later, pistorius shot four shots through the bathroom door, killing reeva. that's not in dispute. what is, is why oscar shot reeva. prosecutors say their evidence will lead to the truth. prosecutors plan on using a combination of ballistic evidence, text messages from oscar's iphone that were retrieved from apple in the u.s. and testimonies from more than 100 witnesses. all, they say, to prove that oscar pistorius fired his gun with the intent to kill reeva. oscar's defense says it was a tragic mistake driven by his fear of crime and vulnerability. at a bail hearing last year, oscar gave his most detailed account of what happened. it filled me with horror and fear of intruder or intruders of being inside the toilet. i fired shots at the toilet door and shouted to reeva to phone the police. outside the courthouse, media has been preparing for days. more than 2,000 journalists have applied for accreditation to cover this trial to give you a
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sense of how intense it will be followed. inside the courthouse here behind me, officials say they'll limit the access into the courtroom. about 100 or so passes have been given, including representatives from both families. in south african law, it will come down to one judge, not a jury, who in the end will decide whether oscar pistorius, once a hero to millions around the world, is, in fact, a criminal. ayman mohyeldin, nbc news, pretoria, south africa. up next here, we go live to the red carpet to check in with al roker and kathie lee gifford to get their picks for tonight's top oscar prizes.
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this is how it looked in los angeles a mere 24 hours ago, the red carpet area draped in plastic outside the kodak theater, site of tonight's academy awards. but a big sigh of relief tonight as the rain passed and things started to dry off today, just in time for the big show. covering it all for us, our
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"today" show colleagues al roker and kathie lee gifford. hey, guys. >> hey, lester. >> hello, lester. >> well, the good news is that -- well, you did get a little bit of a spritz. >> it spritzed just enough to ruin the hair but not my spirit. and it ruined al's. i'm just here to do his makeup. >> that's right. the good news, lester, it's over. the clouds have come out a little bit. we've finally seen an end to the rain just in time for all these stars to come down the red carpet. >> the best news is that i like al because you could never do this with somebody you despise. because this is literally as much room as we get. i'm so happy i love you. >> everybody is so thrilled. it's a tight race this year. there are no clear-cut winners. and i think for best picture i'm kind of liking "12 years a slave." >> that's my pick as well. who for best actor? >> i kind of like matthew mcconaughey. >> me, too. and jared leto for best supporting. >> that's right. >> and for best supporting
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actress, cate blanchette. it's a lock. let's go home. >> all you need to do is tune in tomorrow morning, 7:00 a.m. a, on the "today" show. we've got the ultimate oscar after party. everything you need to know about the oscars and we've got some help coming up tomorrow morning. >> we do? >> yes, johnny weir and tara lipinski. >> and my hairdresser, i promise it will be better tomorrow morning. thanks, lester! >> tight quarters out there. enjoy. all that buzz tomorrow morning on "today." from hollywood royalty, we have this note tonight about british royalty. prince george, now 9 months old, will make his first official trip overseas next month when he travels with his parents to new zealand and australia. they'll take commercial flights and be gone for 3 1/2 weeks. of course, a nanny must come along to watch over the prince while the duke and duchess of cambridge carry out their official duties. when we come back, remembering a storied american warship as it sails into history.
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. the latest ship named in honor of the heroes of 9/11 was commissioned yesterday in philadelphia. the "uss somerset" was named in honor of the 40 passengers and crew members who died when united flight 93 crashed in
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shanksville, somerset county, p pennsylvania. the "uss new york" and "uss arlington" were previously commissioned. gathering in brownsville, texas, this weekend for a final salute to a trusted old friend. when she was launched six decades ago, the "uss forrestal" was the biggest and most expensive aircraft carrier in the fleet. she would see both triumph and tragedy, as we hear from nbc's gabe gutierrez. >> reporter: tony sandoval hadn't laid eyes on her in nearly half a century. >> i remember when she would knife her way across the open sea. >> reporter: launched in 1954 -- >> all engines ahead. >> reporter: -- the "uss forrestal" hailed as the biggest ship ever built, more than 1,000 feet long, as tall as a 25-story building. >> i try not to get emotional but, you know, you remember these things and you remember the men you served with. it's heartbreaking. >> reporter: burned into
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sandoval's memory is the fire on the flight deck near vietnam in 1967. a misfired missile triggered an inferno that ended up on the cover of "life" magazine. >> we were hearing screams and yelling. i knew men were dying left and right. >> reporter: 134 sailors died that day. even more were injured, including then lieutenant commander john mccain. >> i turned around and saw another pilot who was leaving his aircraft. and saw these people trying to put out the fire around the bomb. the bomb exploded. and it was horrific. >> reporter: after repairs, she was the pride of the navy, with deployments across the mediterranean until being decommissioned in 1993 due to budget cuts. >> it is the largest ship ever to be recycled in the u.s. >> reporter: her final voyage has now ended here at this texas scrap yard where she'll be dismantled over the next year
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and a half. >> it's going to be remelted and made into a new ship, a new building, a new tank, and it's going to be part of our history again. >> reporter: this weekend, navy veterans and their families came to say good-bye. >> it just looks worn-out. old and worn-out like me. >> it will live forever in our hearts and our memories. >> reporter: for tony sandoval, one last salute to history. gabe gutierrez, nbc news, brownsville, texas. that's "nbc nightly news" for this sunday. brian williams will be here tomorrow. i'm lester holt reporting from new york. for all of us here at nbc news, good night.
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right now at 6:00 we're tracking the latest storm to hit the bay area. from sunshine to scattered showers, seen a little bit of everything today. what you can expect for the w k workweek. the crisis in ukraine. tensions are rising in the region with russian troops on the ground. we'll show you the grass roots campaign for peace starting right here in the bay area. plus governor brown takes a stand against legalizing marijuana. what the state's leader has to say and the way he said it about the future of pot in california. good evening, everyone. i'm terry mcsweeney. >> and i'm diane dwyer. we begin with the weather. this was a claesically bay area type of day with rain, sun and wind depending on the